NewsLocal News


UNMC low vision center has been offering hope and healing for 10 years

Posted at 7:45 AM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-19 08:45:34-04

Low vision centers are scarce commodities, but Omaha is home to one and it is thriving. Not only has the Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation doubled staff size since it opened, it recently celebrated 10 years of service. 

The 4,500 square foot low vision house located on the campus of UNMC is one of the only ones like it in the country. 

"They can get ideas of what they can do in their own kitchen just by looking at what we have done here," said Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation Director, Dr. John Shepherd. 

Throughout the house you will notice a number of low vision adaptations.  Dr. John Shepherd and his team of occupational therapists work with patients who have visual impairments that cannot be corrected with glasses, medical treatment or surgery. 

"When you aren't able to see to do day-to-day things it cause a lot of frustration.  It is difficult to do things like read or see the TV," said Dr. Shepherd. 

Shepard says individuals with low vision have a greater change of becoming depressed, but the center aims to prevent that and works to educate and empower. The Weigel Williamson Center shows folks there are many resources to help those living with visual impairments participate in daily life. 

Harriet Mullen's life changed in a split second back in May of 2009 while at mass.

"I was just singing along and all of the sudden I couldn't see the words," said Mullen. 

Mullen only had good vision out of one eye and that vision was taken when she suffered a mini stroke on her optic nerve. 

"At that point it was painful to look at print and to read.  I just couldn't do it," said Mullen. 

When the stroke happened Mullen was in her 70's and just three credits shy of graduating college.  After raising seven kids she took her time and spent 17 years working at her degree.  The Weigel Williamson Center showed her by using what was once considered her bad eye and technology that enlarges print called a CCTV, she could still finish school.  

"I pulled a college all-nighter and wrote my final ten page paper," said Mullen. 

Mullen walked across the stage at Creighton in January of 2019. Recently, she attended the 10-year anniversary for the Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation and thanked them with a special haiku.  She learned how to write the Japanese poems while attending a free workshop offered by the center.  

Dr. Shepherd says the best way to know if they can help you is by scheduling an appointment by calling 402-559-2463.